Following an underwhelming start to the new season, the continued rumours that Jose Callejon could be set for a move is not the sort of thing Napoli fans want to hear right now.
If any proof was needed how much they need their top scorer it was aptly illustrated by his absence in last night’s 2-0 defeat by Young Boys in the Europa League clash. They know that the right-sided forward has become their main striker this campaign and without his goals, technique, skill and ability to blend his pace with his off the ball movement, they struggle.
Stats show that he is currently Europe’s most decisive player with six goals in seven games, while winning eight points out of a possible 11 for his side. These figures see him in front of Lionel Messi, Christian Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Chelsea’s Diego Costa. And in Serie A this season, when Callejon hasn’t scored for the Vesuviani, the Vesuviani haven’t scored at all.
Apart from his particular form ahead of his teammates, the winger also tops the Italian goal charts alongside Carlos Tevez and Keisuke Honda, Right from day one this term he has carried Napoli and the stats appear to prove he has grown even further into a role of responsibility that began emerging last season.
He certainly needs to be with last year’s top scorer Gonzalo Higuain lacking his old scoring touch and captain Marek Hamsik running hot and cold.
Certainly his importance to the team was seen as early as the opening game of the season when after just three minutes he finished off a neat move to score against Genoa. Two defeats later and it was vital they won their next game against Palermo, yet despite his superb strike they could only draw 3-3, to great frustration.
In Week 5 Napoli had to beat lowly Sassuolo and thanks to his goal, following a well-worked move, they did, as he snapped on to a cross to tap in at the back post. He followed that up with the winning goal in the 2-1 win over Torino before his Man of the Match performance in the 2-2 draw with Inter.
At San Siro he scored the opener after exploiting a defensive mistake and screwed an angled drive home. Then 10 minutes later using an animal instinct that has him instantly aware of a defender’s proximity with an intensity that burns, he executed a sublime volley with the inside of his left foot. Time seemed to stand still as the ball flew past a startled Samir Handanovic leaving him as helpless as a leaf in a whirlpool. Once again, as the team dropped points, he showed his frustration: “I am not too happy at all regarding those goals we conceded in the final minutes.”
Added to that effectiveness in attack, he is also been helping out in defence, dropping into midfield even if always ready to join the attack and ignite any sparks of an opportunity to score.
All this is perhaps why even more sides have apparently sat up and taken note, following the speculation from the summer that saw him paired with Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Recently he has again been linked with the Gunners, Manchester United and as always Atletico.
Recently he claimed he was happy at Napoli and it could be true, but there are too many conflicting reports claiming that he wants to leave this coming summer. Adding to his decision is that he desperately wants to play for Spain and he knows that a move home may have his form better recognised by Vicente del Bosque, having so far failed to get a look-in.
One factor that may be determining his mood is Napoli’s failure in the Champions League these last two seasons. Undoubtedly if he does leave, as we saw last night, it will create a sizeable gap in the Napoli team and in Serie A in general. Where fans held hope in Higuain at the start of this season, their main man at the moment is Callejon. Keeping calm and keeping Callejon may be most crucial to the club’s direction ahead.